MINDFUL LIVING: LEARNING TO BE PRESENT IN YOUR LIFE
Mindfulness has become a trendy topic as health and wellness, research and the benefits of meditation have been shown to improve quality of life and happiness.
Obviously, we all want to be happy and have a great life, so it's natural that this new trend has spread like wildfire through mainstream culture. Apps, videos, books, and meditation studios are are popping up all over the place, creating easy access to the many benefits of mindfulness.
However, mindfulness is more than a 1-hour meditation class or a 10-minute guided recording on an app. It's a way of life, a moral compass and a change in perspective that can improve all aspects of your life including relationships, self-awareness, attunement to the environment and the ability to understand and regulate your internal experience.
Mindfulness encompasses a philosophy and values system for how you choose to live your life.
"Mindful living" is a drastic shift in how you relate to yourself, others and in-turn the world around you. It's a sense of connection to your body, mind, soul, and purpose which begins to transcend into all aspects of your life.
Helping client's understand what it means to live mindfully for them, is one of the most powerful and transformative "aha moments" that I have witnessed as a clinician.
The most important thing to remember is that this process is unique for each and every person, and no one has the same definition or experience.
Mindfulness begins with curiosity, compassion and a willingness to be open to a new way of thinking and relating to the world. It requires you to slow down and become aware of your internal state and what is happening in your body by taking a non-judgmental and observing stance.
Which allows you to tap into the power of the human experience and intuition- creating a sense of empowerment and freedom.
Once you experience what mindfulness means to you, it becomes easier to recognize your own personal strength, willpower and channel your freedom of choice.
Here are some ways that you can practice mindful living every day:
Slow Down: Life passes us by so quickly. It's so easy to get caught up in moment-to-moment tasks, to do lists and daily hassles. Before we know it the day has flown by, then a week, month, year... and all the sudden we look back and say: "My life just flew by." Well, guess what? It doesn't have to. You have a choice in that! Take a moment and breathe, slow down and challenge yourself to look at things with a more compassionate lens. Will the world end if you are a few minutes late for work? What if you don't finish everything on your to-do list, will your life really be negatively impacted? Life isn't about prioritizing tasks- it's about prioritizing LIFE.
Be Curious: Curiosity is one of the unique qualities that we have as human beings. Being curious about why you are feeling the way you are, what's happening in your environment or why someone is acting a certain way, can really lead you to look at things from a different perspective. It's easy to assume, deflect or ignore things when we don't understand them. But if we don't understand them- how can we ever truly know what they mean or how to respond? Most people listen to others with the intent to respond... rather than to understand. Next time you feel lost, and don't know what to do- try being curious about your experience, situation or what may be going on for the other person involved. Be proactive, not reactive.
Exercise Your Freedom Of Choice: A few things in life are certain- we are born, we live and we die. Throughout the process, a lot of "shit" and learning happens. We fall in love, get hurt, loose, grow and are shaped by our experiences in life (both positive and negative). In my opinion, life is nothing but a big lesson about what truly matters and what doesn't. At the end of the day, it usually comes back to this: our ability to make choices. Good choices or bad choices- it doesn't matter, everything has a lesson in it. By living mindfully and being connected at a deep level with yourself, you will always have an internal compass guiding you in the direction you are supposed to go. With that awareness you can exercise the freedom to chose what you think is best for you. Maybe you will make the wrong choice and make some mistakes along the way- that's ok, as long as you made choices mindfully with the right intentions behind them.
Value Your Self: Love yourself. Be aware of your body and notice when you feel tired, hungry or worn out. Nurture your mind and soul. Find what fills you up with meaning and do it as often as possible. You deserve to be happy, we all do. But happiness starts from within, and if we don't become aware of what we need- we will always be searching for it in the all the wrong places. Hurting ourselves, others and the world around us trying to fill an internal void with external validation. Mindfulness is being aware of your needs, accepting them and giving yourself permission to have those needs met.
Practice Unconditional Acceptance: Acceptance means realizing that some things just won't ever be how we want them to be... and that's ok. Maybe what we want isn't what is best for us. Maybe it's the universe making room for something better. Life is difficult but it shouldn't be a constant fight upstream. Sometimes it's ok to give up when you have tried your best and it's not working. It's important to be connected with yourself enough to know when it's time to stop and "let go." Most of the time fighting a losing battle is not worth the sacrifices in the end.
Practice Being All Encompassing: Connection with self, other, universe and purpose is what life is about. When we live in a way that allows us to meet this deepest human need, life suddenly becomes much more manageable and clear. Fear vanishes and things begin to feel much richer and more fulfilling than ever before. We start showing up and being present in our lives and the "right" people and opportunities begin to come up naturally. Connection begins with awareness and that requires us to be in-tune and open to new experiences and information (internal and external). Mindfulness asks you to dig deep, connect and stay grounded- while at the same time remaining flexible and open to learning something new. It's quite a beautiful parody of balance. Such is life- a beautiful dance and interplay of structure and fluidity.